2017 NFL mock draft: Chiefs haul includes new quarterback
By Matt Conner
Round Two: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt (No. 59 overall)
Cunningham had 125 tackles, 16.5 of them for a loss, 3 passes defended and 2 fumble recoveries last year for the Commodores. If that sounds like a player who’s constantly around the ball, you’d be correct. While Cunningham had zero sacks in 2016, he showed off some pass rushing ability during his sophomore year with 4.5 sacks. Before this season, Pro Football Focus called Cunningham the best linebacker you’ve never heard of.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Chiefs reach for some linebacking help early in the draft this year. With little money to spend on the market for a veteran upgrade, the Chiefs best bet is to add someone early who can help fill in for Derrick Johnson in case he can’t return from injury and push Ramik Wilson for playing time. Josh Mauga is a free agent and the unit was already thin in terms of impact talent as it is.
Johnson might be getting old, but he looked great last season before his Achilles injury and he’s proven his ability to return to form before. That said, it’s time to look to the future at linebacker for Kansas City. Cunningham gives the team a playmaker in the middle instead of getting by on veteran retreads or a surprise resurgence from Ramik Wilson. Wilson was definitely a nice boost after returning from his release, but the run defense needs serious improvement.